High-Value Marketing: Who’s Paying Attention to You?
As markets and communication methods change rapidly, solo consultants and small-but-growing consulting firms are always wondering how to crack the code on finding their ideal clients and getting attention.
While a process of hunting down clients via outbound marketing may seem like the best strategy to take, it’s not the best way to increase your perceived value (and thereby increase your fees).
And while great marketing is neither rocket science nor mystical alchemy, it is possible to develop ways to draw your ideal clients toward you rather than exhausting yourself and–and your resources–by chasing after them.
Keep in mind that the best marketing is based on two principles:
- Using the right marketing channels for your message
- Proving that you can deliver on your business’ core promise: your positioning.
Here’s an overview of the ways you can use these principles to increase your perceived value.
Traditional Advertisements: Anticipated interruptions!
The most common form of marketing–advertising as seen in print and on TV–is called interruption marketing. These ads and commercials appear when you’re doing some necessary or appealing activity, and they intentionally barge in to steal your attention.
We’re so accustomed to seeing this type of advertising in the form of TV and radio commercials, billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, and pop-up ads that we tend to see it as the very definition of marketing. And this form of marketing is right there for anyone to buy–for the right price.
While all advertising is asking for your attention, interruption marketing is in your face about it. In its highest form, interruption marketing appears as expert storytelling, bringing us to tears or fits of laughter, as you’ve probably experienced during Super Bowl commercials. In its lowest form, it appears as reading material in a bathroom stall.
Make no mistake, no matter how well it's done, interruption marketing will work against your efforts to increase the perceived value of your business. It's a technique best suited to selling commodities, not valuable, desirable services.
The Emerging World: Permission Marketing
Permission marketing turns the usual channels of access on their heads. Potential clients willingly give you their attention and even look forward to receiving it!
When a prospect offers you contact information in exchange for some sort of value from you, permission marketing is happening. Since your audience is requesting your expertise, your marketing message is given far more credibility and attention than the “Look over here!” interruption ads.
The most common form of permission marketing is used by businesses and consultants who ask for your email address so they can send you a regular newsletter.
Technology has opened up dozens of additional permission marketing channels, which is great news for entrepreneurs. Never before have there been so many ways to connect with clients using very simple tools.
Here are some of the best methods to communicate your expertise to discerning clients using permission marketing. These forms of permission marketing do a better job of increasing your perceived value as a consultant than any form of interruption marketing can:
- Writing a book
- Writing a column in an industry periodical
- Publishing a weekly/monthly newsletter
- Publishing regular blog posts
- Publishing white papers
- Hosting a podcast
- Appearing on podcasts
- Publishing regularly on social media
- Speaking at conferences
- Hosting webinars
- Hosting teleconferences
As you can see, these channels give you ample opportunity to offer new business leads the chance to see you in action before they commit to a substantial consulting engagement.
Proving Your Worth
Your marketing message will only be successful if it can answer these questions:
- Does your positioning statement make a specific claim about the expertise your business provides?
- Does your marketing message strongly support the claim that you’re the expert who can step in and handle the job?
If your marketing message is full of vague or feel-good content that leads can’t use to evaluate your effectiveness, then they’ll just look elsewhere.
A clear, specific positioning statement defines the value you’re bringing to the table, and permission marketing proves that you can follow through with dependable results. When your marketing includes a well-worded call to action, you begin to gather leads you can nurture into clients.
Choosing Your Proving Ground
Each of the permission marketing channels listed above gives you an opening to educate prospects both on a topic they care about and demonstrate your expertise.
Choosing which marketing channels to use can be confusing or overwhelming, but don’t get stuck in analysis.
Most marketing experts usually coach business owners to consider how much bang they’ll get for the buck from each of these methods, but it can be tricky to make those return on investment (ROI) calculations. Instead, consider these questions:
How hard will it be to do this activity well and consistently? If you live in a small town, it might be difficult to book a conference and fly to a location that has a large population. Or maybe you’ve started a company blog before, but you could never post regularly. Use that self-knowledge to help narrow your choices.
Is it accessible? Blogs can be created with very low costs and relatively little effort, but getting an appearance on a podcast means you may need connections, or prior podcast guest appearances. If you’ve got those, great! If you’re still building that base, you might need to start with other marketing channels that are more available to you.
Can I hit a home run with it? If you’re great in front of people but really struggle with writing, then choose to do speaking gigs. If you have great tech skills but don’t want to get dressed up, then maybe a podcast is just right for you.
Who else is using this medium well? Keep tabs on their results and pick up pointers on what’s working for them.
The permission marketing route is far more layered and nuanced than interruption marketing, but that’s part of the appeal to prospects. Interruption marketing pops in and hopes you’ll accept someone as an expert. Permission marketing lets you step on stage as an established authority with an audience ready and waiting.
Tough Choices Q&A
Given all of the choices and variables, it can be really difficult to pull the trigger on one channel for your marketing. Here are a few more answers to big questions.
Q: What if I make the wrong choice?
A: You can always switch, so don’t worry about moving ahead. Just make sure you stick with your choice for a while so you have enough traction to see results.
Q: What if I see a great marketing opportunity but I’m already committed to a plan?
A: While it’s never the wrong time for a great opportunity, don’t let your fears pull you off track by every shiny new idea. Keep a notebook of marketing ideas to consult when yours needs a refresher.
Q: I don’t know if I can wrangle a keynote appearance at a conference or write a book. Now what?
A: Choose something. Not doing anything is the worst choice of all, and you’ll need some momentum and data points to see what’s working. And remember–you don’t have to do everything on the list. Choose three areas that appeal to you, and move forward with those.
Time to Switch Marketing Strategies?
Permission marketing does have massive advantages, but it’s not a perpetual income machine. Eventually, even the best marketing plans run their course.
If your marketing plans have stalled out, a course correction might give you a boost. Review these three common roadblocks and adjust.
- You’re not putting yourself in your client’s shoes. Make sure you’re seeing your business from your client’s perspective, not your own.
- You chose a marketing channel that isn’t your strength. Identify the problem, choose another angle, and move forward–no problem.
- You don’t have a well-tuned positioning statement. Drop the idea that you need to offer your clients everything so you can offer specific expertise and support for their problems.